Picture: THINKSTOCK
Picture: THINKSTOCK

BitX, the South African-founded bitcoin start-up, has rebranded to Luno and will be launching a range of new products, including an app that aims to get more people involved with the virtual currency.

Bitcoin exploded onto the financial scene at the height of the global financial crisis. It only exists in digital form, not in coins or notes. No single business, government or entity owns or controls it. The cryptocurrency has been growing at a fast pace in SA but most trading is done in China and established markets, such as the US and EU.

As part of the rebrand, Luno has introduced a new learning portal for those who want to learn about bitcoin, and new desktop and mobile apps for Android and iOS, as well as the ability to buy bitcoin from almost anywhere in the world via credit card.

Luno said it had also set up offices in London and would be building its presence in the UK during the year. This is in line with its global strategy to become the world’s premier digital currency brand.

CEO Marcus Swanepoel said the company believed that decentralised digital currencies such as bitcoin would "fundamentally change how the world views and uses money". "Cheaper, faster and safer transactions, more privacy and financial freedom, a significantly better user experience, and, ultimately, more equality by giving everyone in the world access to the same financial system," he said. "Our new brand and product offerings are better aligned with this vision and will help drive our mission of bringing digital currencies to everyone, everywhere."

Bitcoin’s value has risen by more than 500% in the past two years. Its use has become more mainstream, a trend expected to continue in 2017.

Bitcoin head of marketing Werner van Rooyen said one of the initial hurdles with the currency had been the perception that it was used for nefarious purposes. "The focus is turning to truly anonymous digital currencies such as Zcash and Monero," he said. "Regulatory and media attention will shift to these, which will accelerate the adoption of bitcoin in the very near term."

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